Lots of diligence, but few resultsThe 19th National Assembly celebrated its first anniversary at the end of May. According to the Office of the National Assembly, 4,919 cases of bills have been submitted in the National Assembly in the first year. An average of 13.5 bills have been submitted every day, up from 4,716 bills of the first year of the 18th National Assembly and about three times more than the 1,601 bills of the 17th National Assembly. Moreover, reporters are not covering the government proposals as seriously, as they are often revised by the National Assembly.
Unfortunately, the compliments stop here. The National Assembly was not as efficient as it has been diligent. For the first year of the 19th National Assembly, 18 percent of the bills have been processed, only half of the 18th Assembly’s 35 percent. The National Assembly explains that sessions were not opened regularly due to the presidential election last year. However, in the first year of the 14th National Assembly, when the presidential election was held, 65 percent of the bills were processed.
Hongik University professor Eum Seon-pil found that 93 percent of proposals by 18th National Assembly members created or reinforced existing regulations. The proposals of the 19th National Assembly have not been analyzed yet. However, considering the mass regulation bills from the interim session in April, the 19th National Assembly is likely to be more focused on regulations than its predecessor. The state’s power is bound to be controlling. And the role of the National Assembly is to safeguard economic and social autonomy. However, the National Assembly is increasingly spearheading regulations. A corporate executive in charge of government-related business says civil servants have become unprecedentedly tough.
“They pressure companies to follow orders. Even officials during the Roh Moo-hyun administration, which promoted strong conglomerate reform policy, weren’t that pushy. There is no brake for the officials.”
Some argue that the regulations are needed to correct the mistakes of the past. However, what we need is a new environment, not punishment. If we still need regulations, we need to encourage market discipline. While it is now considered conventional and outdated, market discipline is still more effective than any other regulation. On May 15, Halla Group chairman Chung Mong-won said that there would never be additional assistance from affiliates for Halla Construction. When Mando and other Halla Group subsidiaries provided funds to save Halla Construction, Mando’s investors protested and the stock price plummeted. Chung’s promise is an apology to the investors and an outcome of market dynamics. While countless regulations are announced and implemented, I haven’t seen one with a more powerful effect. The June interim session has begun. The diligent National Assembly needs to take a deep breath.
*The author is a deputy business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Kim Young-hoon